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Shield of Winter by Nalini Singh

Shield of Winter

by Nalini Singh

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While Silence is falling, it may be too late to save the Net. The infection of the PsyNet is growing and catastrophic collapse is imminent - a collapse that could kill thousands. As it gets closer there are more and more Psy infected by darkness, driven to unreasoned and uncontrolled violence even as Psy society is learning how to live without Silence

Kaleb, leader of the net and former Councillor, can think of only one way to save the Psy - the key must be the Empaths.

He collects Empaths into a camp to learn how to overcome the trauma of being suppressed in the Net and try to find the extent of their powers after so much knowledge has been lost. And who better to protect them in a hostile net than the Arrow Squad?

Led by Vasic - broken by the demands the Arrows have placed on him, he is slowly awaiting death and not valuing his own life. But if anyone can reach him it’s the Empaths - specifically Ivy

While we followed so many trope laden romances over this series, in the background there has been another story developing - the Arrows. The Arrows have always been a really fascinating element to this series because they are the very epitome of what Silence was for - and the damage it did. All of them are Psy with lethal combat abilities - the very Psy who rely on extreme Silence training to control their lethal abilities. At the same time they are the Psy used and abused by the Council to enforce their reign, causing so many disappearances and deaths. Seeing them turn from Silence, even as they relied on it’s training was an excellent parallel to the actual fight for the future of the Psy Net. Seeing Aden worry about his people and trying to lead the Arrows to a new future and a new life - independent from those who constantly use and abuse them is, again, a wonderful microcosm of the actual net and the Psy race in general. There’s also Vasic, bowed, broken and wounded from the terrible deeds the Council has forced upon him, now just looking to end a life he no longer sees as worth living. Again - an excellent parallel to the wounds of the Psy Net and the many broken and damaged Psy who have been so torn by Silence

Their story, interlinked with Kaleb, the new de-facto ruler of the Psy, also shows the growing evolution of the Psy themselves - and not just in the loss of Silence or the battle against the Darkness Infection of the net. But simple things - in a society where inconvenient people are just disappeared (because actual Psy criminals would expose the lie of Silence), what does it mean in a new age when justice must be done in the light? When justice happens where everyone can see it? When you have a society where the most powerful and ruthless have always ruled, where people’s power is denoted by their inherent woo-woo, what does that mean for future rulership, what does a government look like? In a society where obedience and conformity has been ruthlessly enforced for nearly 100 years, how do they adapt to allowing actual dissent and disagreement? Where are the lines drawn? In some ways wish there were no romance at all in this book and we focused on the Arrows and Kaleb and Sahara alongside the other Councilors actually looking at what the future of the Psy should actually look like - because that is fascinating and just the elements that are hinted at here

I have to say i was also annoyed by this romance because of Vasic and Aden. We have seen repeatedly how deeply Aden and Vasic care for each other, how close they are - we have seen how worried and sad Aden is that Vasic is embracing death, how determined he is that Vasic won’t die, determined to show Vasic he is valued and cared for. I was looking forward to see them growing closer, for that love to become clearer, for Aden, who knows more than anyone exactly what Vasic has had to endure and suffer, to be the comforting arms that Vasic could fall into and be lifted up and…

And Designated straight love interest Ivy appeared. Oh. yay. And we had another book - now book 13 - without a single LGBT character so we can tell the same trope laden straight romance again and again.

And I have to complain yet again about the archaic gender roles in this series because they’re cringe worthy. How come the man always has to be the big dangerous alpha in control one? How come he’s usually the one with the big dangerous powers? Even when a woman has strength and power - like Mercy or Adria - she has to be paired with an even MORE Dominant man. And when she’s dangerous that means she’s desperate and fragile and needs a big strong man to save her like Sienna (note that the big strong dangerous men - Judd, Vasic - don’t get big, extra-dominant women to order them around. No, they get sweet, gentle, delicate and sometimes fragile women to shelter and be all protective and gentle with. Even Sienna was more dangerous to herself and had to be paired with The Most Dominant. I cling to Indigo, though even her and Andrew’s dynamic was hardly a subversion.

Not only have we got Shapeshifter biology supporting this rigid binary with big Alpha possessive males and “matriarchal” females but now the Psy are getting in on the action as well: apparently most Empaths are female. Because lovey-emotions-soft-gentle-healing while most telekinetics are male because big-strong-destructive-dangerous-heavy-lifting-chest-hair.

Why couldn’t there be a big dangerous telekinetic woman who is breaking things and covered in the blood of all she has slaughtered saved by the gentle, loving, patient Empathic man to find her heart and emotions. This is a world with amazing imagination, incredible world building, awesome character development, a history that is truly fascinating and is generally excellent in so many ways - so why - with all this excellent proof of imagination and creativity, are the romances and gender roles so cliched and tired and limited?

In addition to the whole gender roles thing, there was just nothing about this romance that stood out to me. Ivy in particular felt really under developed - I mean she’s had major issues with her broken silence, being rehabilitated, being Silent - but where is this? Beyond having a pet, where is Ivy? Who is this basically hollow she-cares-and-finds-Vasic-hot-despite-his-brokenness woman. Because we’ve seen pretty much that with Sahara (and Sasha, really maybe even Mercy - only these women had a but MORE to them than that).

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  FangsfortheFantasy | Jul 16, 2017 |
This was one long ass book. Sometimes it got a little bit tiring, but I can honestly say that it was very satisfying in the end. I just think that for a book as long as this one, the ending could've been a little bit more polished. It felt a little rushed IMHO. ( )
  msralways | Apr 20, 2017 |
Shield of Winter
4 Stars

The infection spreading throughout the PsyNet is more destructive than previously thought and the only thing capable of saving the Psy race is the E designation. However, not everyone is pleased with the fall of Silence and they blame the E for the death and destruction around them. Assigned to protect a group of E Psy, the Arrows find themselves confronting their complete antithesis - Psy who feel everything.

Trained from childhood to be an Arrow immersed in Silence, Vasic believes that he has lost all vestiges of humanity and that death would be a welcome release. That is until he meets Ivy Jane, an E Psy, who forces him to realize that his life is worth fighting for. But can Ivy's love save Vasic from the dark choices he has made…

The epidemic in the PsyNet is the main focus of the story with gripping descriptions of the Psy’s psychological deterioration and their descent into violence alongside the investigation into potential solutions. Unfortunately, these are so vivid and compelling that they completely overshadow the romance.

While both Vasic and Ivy are extremely likable, their relationship lacks the chemistry and intensity that characterizes my favorite books in the series (Kiss of Snow, Heart of Obsidian). Ivy is sweet and caring and Vasic’s brooding stoicism is very sexy, but the ease with which he falls for Ivy and their slow building intimacy simply do not resonate.

The updates on couples from previous installments, mainly Sasha and Lucas as well as Kaleb and Sahara, are very satisfying and Judd and Vasic’s conversations on dealing with their abilities and their sex lives are hilarious. Nevertheless, these cannot compensate for the rather unimaginative connection between Ivy and Vasic.

All in all, the world building is still excellent and the ongoing story arc is progressing in interesting directions, but the romance is not as satisfying as it could have been. It will be interesting to see what Singh has in store for us next. ( )
  Lauren2013 | Nov 19, 2016 |
After the collapse of Silence and more or less chaos of dealing with an infection that threatens all Psy with madness, the hero, a trained assassin living on the edge of his own madness is tasked with the safekeeping of a woman who has the power to save them all. Him and his fellow arrows establish a secret society in shifter territory to experiment with the E classes ability to fight the illness in the net. They constantly have to cope with the violence the sickness brings out in the population and are caught more than once in a fight to save innocent lives and their own lives. The heroine is nothing like the cold blooded psy, instead she's warm and caring. She admits freely that she was never very good at being silent because of her unknown E classification. She lived through a horrible experience where her people tried to silence her again yet failed and her parents have secreted her away where she's built a life for herself. She an empath and when the hero comes to her one night offering a chance to save lives and figure out what is she, she jumps at the idea. She finds him to be mysterious and magnetic but nothing like the monster he believes himself to be. From the jump it's clear that though the hero is stone faced and robotic, he's far from the coldness of silence. It's not that he can't feel happiness or other emotions-it's that he doesn't know how. He doesn't know how to respond to the heroine's openness but he knows instantly that he'll protect her to his dying breath. It was honestly so romantic how the heroine steadily taught the hero how to be human, and how to allow himself to feel comfort and love-something he has never before had in his life. He was drafted as an arrow at the age of 8 and forced to endure unspeakable torture in a bid to make him into a weapon. But she in some ways was just as innocent as he was when it came to sexual feelings. She took off her shirt and bared herself to him like she was a teenage virgin and sent him images of her naked before blushing beat red at what she had done. Of course she was a virgin and it was so sweet how they had to teach each other how to kiss. They did this by practicing. Awwww! Also every time they were touching and kissing the hero would lose control over his teleporting abilities and they'd find themselves in the desert. It was a such a crazy amazing book because it had a very different feel from the other books in the series. The two characters weren't enemies and they didn't truly fight their feelings for one another. The hero tries to distance himself from her because he's ashamed of what horrible things he did for a madman in the name of peace but it's half hearted at best. It made everything so much easier for them to explore their emotions freely because the evil oppressiveness of the council and the burden of silence was gone. My only issue with the book was the fact that I did feel it was a little dragged out. I didn't mind at all reading about the two characters because they had such passion for one another but it dragged a bit near the end. But it didn't take away from the fact that this was a homerun and honestly I think this author can do no wrong. ( )
  Eden00 | May 14, 2016 |
Silence has fallen and things are changing in the Psy-Net. The infection in the net is spreading faster than ever and has started sending Psy into murderous rages. Kaleb Krychek believes empaths are the key to stopping the darkness and death that is spreading unchecked through the net, so an effort is undertaken to identify empaths and get them working together before the net implodes. This brings our hero (Vasik) and heroine (Ivy Jane) together in a working relationship that evolves into much much more.

Vasic has been one of my favorite psy heroes, second only to Kaleb Krychek. As one of the top members of the Arrow squad, and the strongest teleporter in the psy-net, Vasic has always been in demand by both the good guys and baddies. In previous books, Vasic became self-destructive and volunteered to try a piece of biotechnology which basically made him a human guinea pig with an expiration date. What struck me most about Vasic was that he believed himself to be one of the most silent people in the net... but that wasn't really true. Vasic's fractured silence was evidenced by his extreme loyalty to the other Arrows, and the way he took care of Aidan since they were children. Someone lacking emotions would not have those feelings of loyalty and friendship. It was wonderful to see Vasic realize that he deserved to live and love. Plus, he was pretty darn sexy and powerful. Yum. It's always fun to watch these stoic and practical Psy learn how to be intimate with one another - its a strange and fun blend of innocence and intelligence that makes intimate moments hot and endearing at the same time.

Ivy Jane has lived under broken silence most of her life. Having no idea that Designation E existed, she always thought she was broken. When this scary Arrow appears at the orchard where she and her family have been in semi-hiding, she is terrified and curious. Now that she knows she was not broken, she wants to learn everything she can about being an empath. Seeing Ivy throw herself into the program and try to solve the problem in the net was inspiring. I had a good emotional connection to her character, particularly when it came to the sadness, desperation and hope she felt when it came to Vasic and the ticking time bomb on his life.

I loved that Vasic became the face of the Arrow squad as this silent hero, and that he and Ivy's relationship achieved celebrity status. This is something we have not seen in previous books, and added a touch of realism to the story. We got a much closer look at the Arrow squad in this installment, and I was amazed at the steadfast loyalty among the group. It was nice to see how they all looked up to Vasic - almost as an older brother - they are truly a family built on bonds of loyalty.
And finally, I was glad to see some of our previous favorite couples play a bigger part in this book, namely Sasha and Lucas. It made me want to go back and read [b:Slave to Sensation|178476|Slave to Sensation (Psy-Changeling, #1)|Nalini Singh|https://d.gr-assets.com/books/1403541641s/178476.jpg|172416] all over again... especially because we got a little more of the inventive and oh-so-steamy telekinetic sex tricks in this book.

4.5 stars / 3 flames. ( )
  Bambi_Unbridled | Mar 19, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0425264017, Hardcover)

“The alpha author of paranormal romance” (Booklist) draws us back into her extraordinary Psy-Changeling world, a world torn between violence and peace, passion and ice...

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he’s done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch—if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life.

For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake…

Having rebuilt her life after medical “treatment” that violated her mind and sought to suffocate her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black-clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she’ll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy’s fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness…

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:21 -0400)

Assassin. Soldier. Arrow. That is who Vasic is, who he will always be. His soul drenched in blood, his conscience heavy with the weight of all he's done, he exists in the shadows, far from the hope his people can almost touch, if only they do not first drown in the murderous insanity of a lethal contagion. To stop the wave of death, Vasic must complete the simplest and most difficult mission of his life. For if the Psy race is to survive, the empaths must wake...Having rebuilt her life after medical "treatment" that violated her mind and sought to suffocate her abilities, Ivy should have run from the black clad Arrow with eyes of winter frost. But Ivy Jane has never done what she should. Now, she'll fight for her people, and for this Arrow who stands as her living shield, yet believes he is beyond redemption. But as the world turns to screaming crimson, even Ivy's fierce will may not be enough to save Vasic from the cold darkness.… (more)

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